Tuesday’s opening of Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial had some long-winded humans testifying, but the program’s star was a well-crafted, explanatory video of his call to the thousands of rioters that captured the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6.
It was well-received by viewers around the world and by those in the US Senate chambers.
The video production presented by the House impeachment managers showed Trump’s urging the mobs to fight for his side of the impeachment trial.
His former fixer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress in February 2019 and explained how Trump communicates corrupt directions to underlings in mob boss vernacular, while maintaining plausible deniability about doing so.
While facing his impeachment trial in the US Senate, Trump’s two lawyers are defending him by relying on comments made to incite the mob to disrupt the conclusion of his lost election and to incite the mob with intimidation and violence, while giving him plausible deniability about doing so.
The video, however, conclusively blows up this line of argumentation.
At the end of Tuesday’s session, the Senate voted 56-44 to pave the way for the House Democrats trying the case, to formally open their arguments on Wednesday afternoon.
“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution?” Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the lead manager, told senators after playing the video. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor, if that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing.”
David I. Schoen, one of the former president’s lawyers, derided the House managers for showing the video, saying it was “designed by experts to chill and horrify you and our fellow Americans” as if an impeachment trial “were some sort of blood sport.”
Trump’s second trial opened in the crime scene itself, the same chamber occupied by the mob that forced senators to evacuate in the middle of counting the Electoral College votes ratifying President Joe Biden’s victory.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vermont and the Senate president pro tempore, presided after chief Justice John F. Roberts Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris declined to do so.
Never before has a president been tried by the Senate twice, much less after his term has expired.
“What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day, is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life,” Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado, another House manager, told senators. “Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.”